Fort Wayne Mad Ants Dominate in Win Over Iowa Energy
The Fort Wayne Mad Ants defeated the Iowa Energy Tuesday night by a final score of 101-88, putting them one game closer to the division-leading Sioux Falls Skyforce. This game and the rematch on Friday are pivotal for both teams, as they could ultimately determine who goes to the playoffs.
The first half went mostly at the Iowa Energy’s pace: quick and strong. Their guards are speedy and their big men are strong and athletic. Jarnell Stokes, former Tennessee standout and second round draft pick by the Utah Jazz (traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on draft night), played center. Willie Reed, Saint Louis University alumni and one of the best big men in the D-League, played power forward. Stokes collected 13 rebound and scored 16 points, all of which were in the post. Reed had 20 points and a phenomenal 22 rebounds total, almost half of the team’s rebounds. The Mad Ants center, Travis Hyman, had a hard time guarding either one of them alone, so Trey McKinney-Jones and C.J. Fair stepped in to help.
A major standout performer for the Mad Ants was former Golden State Warrior guard Jordan Crawford. He finished the game with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. He had the most points and assists of any player on either team. Mad Ants point guard Matt Bouldin, who now starts over Gary Talton, is an exceptional shooter in his own right. The Gonzaga University alumni had 15 points, and made 2 out of 3 three pointers. C.J. Fair had a great game as well, scoring 17 points at 50 percent from the field. He also had the highlight play of the night, dunking emphatically on a fast break at the end of the third quarter.
The second half of the game went more to the pace of the Mad Ants, which is half court sets and pick and roll basketball. Crawford, Fair, McKinney-Jones, and Bouldin seemed to be more comfortable and thrive in the offense. Instead of one person trying to fill the void after Andre Emmett’s departure, there was clearly more of a focus on team-oriented approach to their offense. Jordan Crawford has the ability to do it, but chose to work for the team’s best interests.
The fourth quarter was the big statement for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Their team defense was smothering. The Energy barely made 15 points in the quarter, and Stokes and Reed were shut down almost completely. Stokes at times was quadruple teamed and did not have enough room to pass the ball out without getting it stolen. On offense, the Mad Ants shot at will from anywhere, and their free throw shooting as a team was much better. The Energy were stalemated at 88 points in the final minutes of the game, while the Mad Ants ran up the score to 101.
The Mad Ants are now one game behind the division leading Sioux Falls Skyforce with a record of 24-20. The Iowa Energy are also knocking on the door of the Central division with a record of 21-20. Both the Mad Ants and the Energy are in the hunt for the division title and a playoff berth if one of them can knock off the Skyforce.
By Joshua Hamer